Official Orthopaedic Providers for the Manchester Monarchs

Posted on November 28, 2016.

New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center is proud to extend our partnership with the Manchester Monarchs for … Read More

Youth Sports Safety Week 2016

Posted on November 1, 2016.

Youth Sports Safety Week is 2 weeks away! All services to athletes are FREE! Call … Read More

Dr. Kathleen Hogan Visits the Democratic Republic of Congo

Posted on October 11, 2016.

Learn more about Dr. Hogan’s recent trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo! For photos, … Read More

New Hampshire Orthopaedic Center

Knee Replacements in the Congo – Part 4

Posted on October 13, 2016.

by: Kathleen A. Hogan, MD

I am part of a group of female orthopedic surgeons (WOGO) who travel to third world countries to improve the lives of people by improving mobility through joint replacement. In July, we traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as guests of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to perform knee replacement surgeries. This was an incredibly challenging trip and rewarding trip.

Exhausted, Elated and Disappointed

In four days of surgery, we replaced 42 knees. The last few days in DRC were bittersweet. We were exhausted from operating late almost every night. We were elated to have accomplished so much, but disappointed we did not get all the surgeries done. But time had run out. Another visiting surgeon had come to operate and we also didn’t want to leave the country the day after patients had just had surgery.

Visits to An Orphanage and Maternity Hospital

We had 2 days left. We packed cargo. We spent time with our patients. We traveled to an orphanage on the outskirts of Kinsasha. WOGO partners with Soles-4-Souls, a non profit organization which delivers shoes to people in third world countries. We visited with the children in the orphanage, and sat in the dirt to fit them with shoes. It was organized chaos with lots of smiling happy children. We also visited a maternity hospital. Many of us packed extra luggage full of baby onesies and blankets, and every new mother there went home went home with a care package of new baby clothes.

Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary

We did do a few “fun” activities while we were there. We spent an afternoon visiting the Lola ya Bonobo Sanctuary. Bonobos are members of the great ape family – as closely related to humans as are chimpanzees. Unlike chimps, they do not fight each other for food or dominance And the female bonobos are in charge. Bonobos live only in the Congo and are endangered. Their habitat has been devastated by civil war and monkeys are sold as gifts and eaten as food. This sanctuary was founded by a Congolese women who has dedicated her life to raising and protecting orphan bonobos.

Congolese Symphony

We also saw the Congolese Symphony perform. Yes, in the midst of this poverty there is a symphony. It is the only symphony in Central Africa. Many of the musicians taught themselves to play on homemade instruments. They are unpaid and have other jobs during the day We saw them perform in an old school gymnasium and they were amazing.

Kind, Friendly People Enduring Terrible Tragedy

If you read the stories of civil wars and child soldiers, and rape and corruption, you know that the people here have endured terrible tragedies. The poverty is unbelievable. Garbage litters city streets. Police officers and civil servants go without pay. Presidential elections are cancelled. Doctors work more than one job to pay the bills. I saw men with machine guns sitting on top of trucks. Yet the people we met were kind, friendly, and wonderful. They dress with a keen sense of fashion and color. People were genuinely happy we were there. The team of nurses and doctors at the hospital stayed late to help us out and often slept there. The police officers with machine guns who traveled with us cared about our safety and became part of our team too, even joining us in giving out shoes at the orphanage.

Our Last Day – Looking Forward to Returning to the Congolese People

The last day at the hospital, we brought all the patients outside to take a group photo. All of the patients started clapping their hands and singing “God is so Good.” I cried. I think everyone did. It was an emotional, exhausting, amazing trip. The DRC is so much more than a failed state. I understand now why Dikembe Mutombo is so dedicated to helping the people from his homeland. His hospital does so many great things – vaccinations, cervical cancer screening, hearing aid distribution, cataract surgery, and now joint replacements. WOGO hopes to raise enough money to go back to DRC next year and continue helping the wonderful Congolese people. Learn more about our trip at Women Orthopaedist Global Outreach and the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation.

Knee Replacement in Congo – Part 3

Posted on October 5, 2016.

by: Kathleen A Hogan, MD

I am part of a group of female orthopedic surgeons (WOGO) who travel to third world countries to improve the lives of people by improving mobility through joint replacement. In July, we traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as guests of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to perform knee replacement surgeries. This was an incredibly challenging trip and rewarding trip. This is our story.

Unforeseen Challenges

Nothing went exactly as planned. Our cargo was delayed, resulting in one less surgical day. The sterilizer broke down. Many team members were hit hard by a GI illness. But we had rallied, working late into the evening and finding another nearby hospital to get our equipment autoclaved. We had performed 38 knee replacements. It was the last day for surgery. We knew that even under the best of circumstances there would probably be 6 patients for whom surgery would not happen. But we wanted to try.

Revised Plan

We had a plan to get as many cases done as possible. Two surgeons ran the day-long educational conference for the local surgeons. Everyone else was in the operating room. But after the first cases were completed, the news was grim. The sterilizer was down again. Instruments were gathered up and sent to a nearby hospital to be autoclaved. But the slow down meant 6 patients would not have surgery.

Hearbreaking News for Eight Patients

We had met these patients in May and selected them for surgery. They had been in the hospital for the past 5 days awaiting surgery. They had gone through preoperative teaching and seen other patients recovering from surgery. Telling these 6 patients that their surgeries could not be performed was heartbreaking. Tears were shed – by the nurses, surgeons, and patients. But they all knew how hard we had tried to help them. These patients received steroid injections and braces prior to being discharged.
Later in the day we had to tell 2 more patients their surgery was also cancelled. These 2 patients were in the preoperative holding area when we realized that the equipment sterilized at the other hospital was not sterile and could not be used. It was such an emotional day. All of the surgeons believe that we have to go back to the Congo and finish the job we started. We all made a commitment to these patients that we would not forget them.

42 Knee Replacements in 4 Days

In the end, we were able to complete 42 knee replacements in 4 days of surgery. Our team worked long hours without complaints. The patients did really well after their surgeries. By the time we left, many had already been discharged home. They were walking with walkers or crutches and their pain was well controlled. Our physical therapists taught them exercises to do at home. We spent time with the surgeons who will be following up these patients teaching them about postoperative care for knee replacements. At the 2 week post op visit, all were doing well. We have established a great relationship with the surgeons at the hospital and we are working to help them get a wifi connection at the hospital to help facilitate email and video conferencing.

Benefits to Biamba Marie Mutumbo Hostpital

Not only did we help our patients, but we also helped to make the hospital a little bit better for those who follow in our footsteps. Because our group was coming, improvements had already been made in the operating rooms, including air conditioning. A new sterilizer is needed and will be ordered. After watching us perform a particularly difficult surgery, Rose Mutombo told me that we showed everyone in the operating room who was observing us the importance of getting the surgery done correctly, no matter how long it took. We had the opportunity to work alongside and teach the local surgeons, anesthesiologists, residents and nurses. The people of the Congo have suffered much with recent wars and political dictatorships and corruption. But they are beautiful, resilient people and there are so many good things happening in Congo!

Knee Replacement in Congo – Part 2

Posted on September 2, 2016.

by: Kathleen A. Hogan, MD

I am part of a group of female orthopedic surgeons (WOGO) who travel to third world countries to improve the lives of people by improving mobility through joint replacement. In July, we traveled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as guests of the Dikembe Mutombo Foundation to perform knee replacement surgeries. This was an incredibly challenging trip. Here is Part 2 of our story.

As described in Part 1, our cargo had not yet cleared customs when we arrived in the country. We lost a day of surgery while the necessary signatures were obtained. Although we were at the hospital until midnight unpacking cargo, we were ready to start surgery the next day.

Beginning Surgery

The buses left the hotel at 7:00am. We were tired but excited to start operating. The scrub techs quickly got started preparing the rooms and opening sterile drapes and instruments. The first patients were brought down to the preoperative area and our interpreters helped us answer patient questions. The anesthesiologists placed femoral nerve blocks and spinals.

By 9.30am, the first patients rolled into the operating rooms. We had 3 rooms, with 2 surgeons per room. The goal was to do 3 cases per room per day for a total of 9 patients. Most of the patients needed bilateral knee replacements. In addition to our team of an anesthesiologist, 2 surgeons, a surgical assist, and a circulating nurse, we were joined by surgeons and anesthesiologists from the hospital and orthopedic residents. We spent a lot of time teaching.

Challenging Patients, Unfamiliar Equipment

These were challenging surgeries as most of the knees were stiff and very deformed. The equipment we were using was not the small, minimally invasive state of the art instruments that we are used to in the United States. The surgical teams incorporated people from all over the country who last worked together 2 years ago on our last mission trip. The surgeries took a bit longer than usual because of these factors, but they all went really well.

We were focused on getting our cases done because we had already lost one day of surgery and the patients we had selected on the pre-trip had been admitted to the hospital in preparation for their surgeries. For that reason, I started my last case that first day at 9.30pm. It was another long day, with the early team not getting back to the hotel until after 10:00pm and the late team staying at the hospital past midnight. We were all exhausted but happy the cases had gone so well. Fourteen knee replacements were done! We were proud to have done the first knee replacements in Kinshasa, DRC.

Problems Increase

The problems with the sterilizer started the next day. Because of issues with electricity and water pressure, not all of the equipment was sterile. Ruth Kanyere, the equipment engineer for the hospital was so helpful in trying to get the machine to work. The delays meant another long day, but by the end we had accomplished our goal of 14 more joints.

The third operating day was when everything started to fall apart. The sterilizer broke down again. We ended up sending some of our equipment to another hospital to be sterilized. We were able to do some cases. One of the surgeons was sick and had to return to the hotel. Other team members were hit by gastro-intestinal illnesses and were getting IV fluids. We were all exhausted.

For the first time we were not able to do all the cases scheduled for the day. Thirty-eight knee replacements had been completed. We started trying to figure out how we would be able to get all of the cases done. Even in the best case scenario, if the autoclave worked perfectly that night and the next day, it would be nearly impossible to do all the cases we had promised to do. We had only one more day left to operate as the OR was booked for another foreign surgeon for the remainder of the week. We started the difficult process of trying to decide which cases we could do. But we would wait until tomorrow to make the final decisions.

Read all the articles about this trip here.

Knee Replacement in Congo – Part I

Posted on August 5, 2016.

by: Kathleen A Hogan, MD

The Democratic Republic of Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire, is not a tourist destination.    Because of ongoing violence, much of the country is inaccessible.   There are warnings for travelers posted on the US Embassy website. There is an ongoing yellow fever epidemic.   The DRC is one of the largest countries in Africa and also one of the poorest.  The country has been devastated by multiple wars, corruption, and a dictatorship. So why would I travel there?    

Knee Replacements at Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital

I am part of a group of female orthopedic surgeons (WOGO) who travel to third world countries to improve the lives of people by improving mobility through joint replacement.   We also believe it is important to teach doctors in those communities and to be role models for young women. Dikembe Mutombo, an NBA Hall of Fame basketball player, who is from Congo, asked our group to go to his hospital. Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital is a 150 bed hospital with modern equipment including the only CT scanner in the country, an intensive care unit, and 3 operating rooms. Our group would be performing the first knee replacements done in that hospital, and possibly the first done in the country.  This was an incredibly challenging trip.  This is our story of what it was like to do knee replacements in Congo.

Travel and Logistics

It was a long plane ride.  Over 16 hours of travel.   We were met at the airport by police officers with machine guns who would be traveling with us everywhere we went.   The team was all assembled at the hotel. We are a large group with over 40 volunteers  including surgeons, scrub techs, nurses, anesthesiologists, internists, physical therapists, and a translator. Last month, a smaller team had traveled to Congo for the weekend to select patients for surgery.   We arrived Thursday evening, with the plan to start operating on Friday.   We planned to do  52 knee replacements in 4 days of surgery.  In March, 9000 lbs of orthopedic equipment and supplies had been sent by ship to the DRC.  We had been told the cargo was there and an advance team had arrived  a day early to unload and unpack the shipping container.

Challenges

There was only one problem.  The cargo was not at the hospital.   It was in the country, but we needed a signature, or maybe more than one, in order for it to be released from customs.   Mr. Mutombo spent Thursday and Friday trying to get those signatures.   Our team was waiting at the hospital to unload the cargo.  By 6pm on Friday, we were worried.  Supposedly the signatures had been obtained but a customs agent could not be found to escort the cargo.  An ultimatum was given.  If the cargo did not arrive by 7 am the next day we would not be able to do our surgeries.   We were about to leave the hospital when word came that the cargo was on its was on its way.  Mr. Mutombo had called the president of the country, and a customs agent had been found.

Teamwork

The shipping container arrived around 9.30 pm, along with Mr. Mutombo.  We were tired, hungry, jet-lagged, and excited.  Everyone pitched in to unload hundreds of boxes and more them to the operating rooms and the hospital floor.  Boxes were loaded onto stretchers and laundry carts.   It was truly a team effort.   Pizza arrived an hour later and was the best pizza we had ever tasted. But boxes still needed to be unpacked and the equipment organized. By midnight we were all on the bus for the ride to the hotel.   The  next day buses would leave at 6.30 am and we would finally be able to start doing knee replacements.

Read all the articles about this trip here.

Top Three Things to Do Before Having Surgery

Posted on July 5, 2016.

by: Kathleen A. Hogan, MD

Everyone who has surgery worries about what can go wrong.   No surgery, no matter how minor, is without some risk.   However there are a few things that you can do before having surgery which may reduce the risk of complications.

Stop Smoking

Yes, smoking can result in lung cancer.   But there are more immediate risks for smokers having surgery.   Studies have shown significantly increased risks of heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia, blood clots, infection, and death after surgery in smokers.   Nicotine also impairs the body’s ability to heal surgical wounds, thereby increasing the risk of infection.  Fractures heal more slowly in smokers and there is a risk that joint replacement implants will not properly adhere to the bone in smokers.   It is recommended to stop smoking at least 6 weeks before your planned surgery.

Lose Weight

No one likes, or needs to be told to lose weight.  However, obesity may increase the risk of surgical complications such as heart attacks and urinary tract infections. The risk of infection after joint replacement rises exponentially in patients who are significantly overweight.   These risks are further increased in patients with high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease. How do you know if you are overweight? Calculate your body mass index by dividing your weight (kg) by height squared (cm). In New Hampshire, approximately 36% of adults are overweight (BMI>25) and 26% are obese (BMI>30). Weight loss is not easy, but may decrease your risk of surgical complications.

Visit a Dentist

According to the CDC, more than 20% of adults have untreated cavities.  Studies have shown that improving oral care preoperatively reduces the risk of pneumonia and mortality after cardiac surgery.  Infections around the teeth can spread bacteria into the blood stream and can cause severe infections around total joint replacements.  I ask my patients if they have untreated dental disease and postpone surgery until it is resolved.   Only 61% of adults visited the dentist within the past year.  Brush and floss daily and visit a dentist at least once each year.

Is it more difficult to stop smoking, lose weight, or get a root canal? None of these things are easy or fun to do.  However, they are three steps that should be considered before having elective surgery in order to decrease the risk of complications.  Discuss these issues with your doctor if you are planning on having joint replacement surgery.